Paulina Florjanowicz

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Paulina Florjanowicz


Paulina Florjanowicz is an archaeologist, she graduated from Warsaw University in 2000 (M.A. in mediaeval and modern times archaeology) and completed PhD studies at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 2018 (currently preparing the doctoral thesis). Since 2016, Director of the Department for Cultural Heritage at the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, supervising the museum sector, remembrance policy and memorial sites. General Coordinator of the national “Niepodległa” program for the centenary of Poland regaining its independence. For the past twenty years, she worked for several national and international NGOs and public institutions of the culture sector, including Stefan Batory Foundation, National Center for Culture, Center for the Protection of Archaeological Heritage. Director General of the National Heritage Board of Poland (2010-2013), then responsible for international relations at the National Institute for Museums and Public Collections (until 2016), as well as research coordinator for the European Archaeological Council (2014-2016). Member of various national and international expert and advisory panels (including EU & Cultural Heritage Reflection Group, member of the Board for ICOM’s International Committee for Museum Security, currently member of the jury for European Capital of Culture). Project evaluator in different EU culture and education programs, university lecturer and expert on heritage management, cultural policy, museums, remembrance, memorial sites, and social and economic impact of heritage.

Polish archaeologists’ approach towards Nazism and Stalinism (1939-1956)

Links between archaeology and politics have always been very strong. It is claimed that the rapid development of archaeology in the 19th century was possible as European states needed the fuel to support the unifying idea of their national identity. This theory, whether true or not for some parts of the world, cannot stand for countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where most modern national states emerged after World War I, usually multiethnic and of diverse religions. Archeology has existed there long before the statehoods, uncovering fascinating remains of the past civilizations, regardless of national policy priorities. Nevertheless, one cannot say that archaeology and politics were not interlinked, whether it was archaeologists trying to use the political opportunities to support their research, or politicians trying to exploit the results of the archaeological findings to aid their ideological program. It becomes an essential question today, where the entire concept of heritage is becoming more political than scientific. Is there a way in-between? Where does it lead? The aim of my research is to examine how (and if) these relations existed in times most extreme, when the two totalitarian regimes occupied Poland: Nazism (1939-1945) and Stalinism (1944-1956). The analysis of the attitude of Polish archaeologists (especially Józef Kostrzewski, Włodzimierz Antoniewicz and Leon Kozłowski) towards the two occupants sheds light not only on the scientific quality of their research, but also on the mechanism of a totalitarian regime taking over (or not!) the society, or at least its elites. It is especially interesting in case of Poland, not only because both totalitarian regimes invaded and occupied the country for several years in the most horrific way, but also as it allows to provide answers on how researchers on prehistory have dealt with the extreme political pressure and, given the time passed, what are the consequences for the discipline, quality of research and the place of archaeology in today’s Poland. Archaeology of the prewar time focused mainly on the question of the origin and arrival of Slavonic peoples to the basins of Vistula and Oder rivers. Before World War II, there was an intense “debate” with German scholars on whether the land was “originally” Slavonic or Germanic. Nazi regime turned it into a most pervert battle, where the toll for disobedience meant death. After the War, during the times of Stalinism, archeology was once again used by the new regime to provide for evidence of Slavonic occupation of the territories assigned to Poland in Jalta, as a compensation for the eastern lands seized by the Soviet Union in 1939. It is therefore possible to trace the links in the past as well as the consequences for the present. It is also interesting to discover different attitudes of most distinguished Polish archeologists of those times: to what extent they complied with, exploited, or avoided the politics, and what were the results of their choices.